KINGSTON — The University of Rhode Island has been named again by the Princeton Review as a "Green College" for its commitment to sustainability.
This is the 10th consecutive year the college guide has named the university, calling it one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible institutions.
The university has made progress in its efforts to save energy and reduce its impact on the environment. In 2005, the university’s Kingston campus consisted of 3.85 million square feet in buildings and facilities, and now that total is a little more than 5 million square feet. But even with that growth, greenhouse gas emissions from the Kingston campus have been reduced by 25 percent.
There is a new carpooling option for commuter students, a bike path, major infrastructure improvements and energy conservation efforts that have resulted in a reduction of 89 billion BTUs in steam heat each year and 11 million kilowatt hours of electricity saved annually.
The designation is a tribute to every segment of the university community, but particularly the Facilities Group, according to a release from URI, which is made up of planning and real estate development, capital projects, small projects and facilities operations.
In 2019 alone, the university has received over $1.8 million in negotiated energy conservation incentives as part of its comprehensive campus-wide interior and exterior LED lighting conservation projects.
In decreasing its greenhouse gas emissions, the university targets transportation, building energy (steam, electricity) and waste. In 2005, 94,429 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions were produced, but in 2018, the level dropped to 71,994 metric tons. The reductions are equivalent to planting 5,811 trees and removing 3,251 cars from the road.
In one of its most innovative and far-reaching sustainability efforts, the university partnered with the towns of South Kingstown and Narragansett to create the South Kingstown Solar Consortium to develop an ambitious solar power project that will generate economic benefits for all three partners while boosting the amount of renewable energy flowing into the state’s electric grid.
In the works for more than three years, the project is among the largest solar power initiatives in New England, covering 267 acres in West Kingston, South Kingstown and West Greenwich. The campus site in West Kingston and the South Kingstown site at the Rose Hill landfill began producing power in November 2018. Through November 2019, the local sites have produced 6 million kilowatts of electricity, with projected annual revenues to URI of $817,160. The West Greenwich site to be activated this year is slated to generate 48 million kilowatt hours of electricity, with projected annual net revenues of $1.4 million.
The university also has 11 buildings certified as LEED (Leadership in Environmental Engineering and Design). The certification process by the U.S. Green Building Council granted gold certification to four university buildings and silver to another four. The council has recognized the university for building structures with energy-saving heating and ventilation systems, environmentally sound stormwater runoff systems, bike racks, solar panels and recycled construction materials. Certifications are pending for the Higgins Welcome Center, the Fascitelli Center for Advanced Engineering and Brookside (residence) Hall.
The university’s dining and catering services use locally caught, under-used fish for its Catch of the Month program and obtains around 25 percent of its produce from local farms, including from the university’s agronomy farm. Waste cooking oil is also picked up by Newport Biodiesel to use as fuel.
Campus outreach efforts encourage community members to save electricity by shutting off lights, television sets and computers when not in use, save water by taking shorter showers, using cold water for washing clothes and using reusable water bottles.
For more information on the university’s sustainability efforts, visit web.uri.edu/sustainability.